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Bearcats, sound cannons, and 322 AR-15s: Sacramento police reveal military equipment stock

Sacramento committee sent the police department's 2022 military equipment use policy and report to the City Council after hearing from officers.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — After months of work to craft a new use of military equipment policy following police clashes with protesters, Sacramento Police Department officials are ready to take their draft to the City Council.

Officials revealed on Tuesday their stock of weapons and items listed as military equipment and "less lethal" force in its first Annual Military Equipment Use Report for 2021-22.

The weapons and equipment currently held by Sacramento police include:

  • 2 Bearcat armored vehicles
  • 4 long range acoustic devices (sound canons)
  • 79 unmanned aircraft (drones)
  • 322 Semi-automatic AR-15s
  • 644 chemical agent and smoke canisters
  • 3,149 rounds of less lethal shotgun and bean bag munitions.

Click here to view the police department's entire stock.

New Military Equipment Use Policy

Police Chief Kathy Lester told committee members the department's new military equipment use policy came after receiving 1,274 public comments through an online survey in partnership with the City Clerk's Office.

Public comments from this 2022 survey will be published on the police department's transparency website, according to Lester.

"They've done a ton of work on this policy and have adopted a number of the recommendations made by (the Law and Legislative Committee)," she said.

Among the significant updates to the Sacramento Police Department's Use of Military Equipment policy include:

  • Identifying which weapons and items police are allowed to purchase and own
  • Further specifying in which settings and situations to use certain force

History

California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved Assembly Bill 481 on Sept. 30, 2021, which requires law enforcement agencies to get approval from local officials for funding, purchase and use of military equipment.

The bill came after nationwide protests against police brutality in 2020 led to near-deadly confrontations between protesters and police using militarized equipment and projectiles.

Sacramento Police Department officials now have to seek approval with the City Council to purchase and use military equipment, as well as approval on their policy for use of military weapons.

However, Lester said that not everyone has the same characterization of military-grade weapons. Another police official added that some of the items listed as military equipment can be purchased by civilians at local stores.

"I do think there is a misunderstanding between what is military equipment and what the law says," Lester said on Tuesday. "Just because it's listed as military equipment does not mean it is from the military or militarized."

Councilmember Katie Valenzuela said during the committee meeting that the police department's proposed use of military equipment policy does not define who, or what will provide oversight for the policy.

Sacramento Community Police Review Commission Chair Graciela Castillo-Krings called into the meeting and said she was optimistic about a future meeting between the citizen-led commission and the police department.

She said the groups would talk about the military equipment use policy before it goes to the City Council for final review.

"During (our) call, (they) said more public input would be solicited, and we have a commitment that we're going to sit down with the Sacramento Police department to go over the adjusted changes in further detail," Castillo-Krings said "I hope this collaboration will lead to the changes that will strengthen this general order and fully reflect the committee's input before this item goes to the City Council for a vote."

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